Whether rowing a boat merrily down the stream or pulling the oars at the local fitness centre, rowers engage in one of the best exercises around for aerobic conditioning and for increasing strength and flexibility.
Unlike cycling, stair climbing, and treadmill walking, rowing provides a full-body workout by engaging both the upper and lower body. Full-body involvement not only enhances aerobic conditioning, it also improves flexibility and mobility around the major joints.
Rowing is a suitable form of exercise for all ages and levels of fitness and has recently been shown to prevent age-related muscle loss. Calorie-expenditure from rowing is greater than cycling and can complement any workout program.
Since full-body exercise may quickly lead to fatigue, especially for beginners, it is important to slowly integrate rowing into an exercise program.
Fit from Stem to Stern
It is important, while rowing, to have a strong core and to use proper form with each stroke in order to minimize strain. The rowing technique requires a forward bend in the back, a powerful thrust with the legs, and a follow-through with the arms, bringing the oars into the abdomen and driving the upper body back 10 degrees at the end of each stroke.
A slow and progressive program in both duration and intensity (strokes per minute and tension) will aid in the development of muscular coordination and strength and in the prevention of injury.
As a beginner, exercise for no more than 10 minutes, at a stroke rate of eight to 10 rows per minute. A moderate to experienced rower generally aims for 15 to 30 rows per minute for a total of 20 to 30 minutes. Furthermore, you may choose to warm up on the rower for five minutes and perform the final five minutes after completing your resistance training routine. Resistance training is important to improve overall body strength, and exercises such as seated pulleys, body squats, back extensions, abdominal crunches, and bicep curls will improve the integrity of your row, delay fatigue, and prevent injury.
Does the Oar Fit?
If you have a membership to a gym, you may have seen a few rowing machines, or ergometers, alongside the treadmills, steppers, and elliptical machines. Ask a professional trainer to show you the correct form for rowing before you begin.
The addition of rowing to your exercise program will add variety and challenge to your workouts. The seated position during the row has the added benefit of improving the heart’s efficiency to pump blood, which allows you to exercise at a lower heart rate, but at the same relative intensity of treadmill running.
Unlike many aerobic activities, rowing engages the strong action of both the upper and lower body muscles but requires proper technique to help prevent injuries and improve the efficiency of a workout.
A gradual integration of rowing into your workouts will not only add variety, but also enhance your overall level of fitness. If you have a chance to row outdoors, enjoy the scenery and the challenge of overcoming the resistance of water. For indoor rowers, the scenery may be different, but the experience and benefits are always the same–you’ll be healthy, hale, and hardy!
Phase 1: With a forward bend in the back, followed by a bend in the knees, slide the body forward–take a deep breath in during this phase.
Phase 2: Thrust powerfully with the legs, letting breath out, contracting the abdominal muscles, and pushing from the heels to extend the legs.
Phase 3: As you extend the legs, follow through with the arms, bringing the oars into the abdomen and finishing the stroke by driving the upper body back approximately 10 degrees.
Phase 4: Repeat phase 1 for next stroke.